It’s not uncommon for hotels to share vacancy information during times of high traffic, says Koranda. It’s a quirk of the industry. Vance didn’t find it at all ironic to stand in the lobby of the Embassy Suites and direct prospective guests to competing hotels, he says.
It also helps that Norman hoteliers are accustomed to the heavy traffic brought by OU.
“A community that doesn’t have football, that doesn’t have university traffic — that community might panic in this situation,” says Koranda. “Hotels here are used to being absolutely jam-packed eight weekends a year.”
As of Thursday, all but about 20 of the displaced Moore residents at the Embassy Suites had found other places to go. Some smaller hotels, however, are still stretched to capacity. The Holiday Inn at 1000 N. Interstate Dr. has been receiving more than 2,000 phone calls per day and is still fully booked, says Patrick Whyatt, general manager.
Whyatt, who managed a Residence Inn during the 1999 Oklahoma tornado event, says that he sees the same patterns playing out now — as families displaced by the tornado find more permanent homes, hotels begin to fill up with insurance adjusters, FEMA agents and construction workers.
“It’s really a fluctuating situation right now,” says Whyatt. ”It’ll probably be a couple of weeks before things stabilize and you don’t see those peaks and valleys anymore. Until then, we’re just working to get people’s needs met.”